Many families get stuck in the same routine of connecting with their elderly parents. During the COVID-19 quarantine, it is more important than ever to think outside of the box about how to connect with our elderly. Whether they are living at home or in a retirement community, your parents or grandparents are certainly feeling the isolation that we are all feeling right now. The good news is that there are plenty of creative ways to connect with your parents or grandparents, so you don’t risk spreading COVID-19, but also know that they feel reassured that they’re not alone.
While it may not be wise to go inside of your elderly loved one’s home or assisted living facility, that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Many nursing homes are making adjustments to allow family members to visit from a safe distance. For example, if there are any large windows on the main floor of the building, you can meet with your parent or grandparent on either side of it. There’s no need to yell, just have a phone call at the same time.
If your elderly parents and grandparents are living in their own home, there may also be a way for you to meet with them in person, from a safe distance. Their backyard deck or garage might be a great way to do this. Place folding chairs or patio furniture a few feet away from their own chairs. Meet in person and use the phone so you can hear each other.
If you don’t live close enough to your loved ones to visit them in person, video calls are a great way to hear and see them. Sure, many elderly people do not know how to join a video call, but you can always email them instructions beforehand or walk them through the process on the phone. Some platforms that are a little more user friendly for the elderly include:
- Facebook: Most people are familiar with Facebook already, so accepting a video call may be easier.
- Slack: While it is used more commonly for workplaces, Slack is easy to use and a great way to connect with family too. It’s very user-friendly.
Those who can’t get some face-to-face time with their elders might appreciate a different format: long-from writing. Sure, you can text, but those short bursts of communication aren’t necessarily the best for deeply connecting with someone. You also tend to text briefly throughout the day among other distractions, instead of taking time to focus on just talking with (and listening to) your loved one.
That’s why you might want to try some longer writing, such as emails or letters. Letters might be a nice surprise for an elder in particular, who likely remembers a time when people sent them much more regularly. Whether you choose electronic or physical writing, you’ll find that taking the time to set down more words at once helps you connect and comfort your elder. They might even be a nice keepsake for when life is back to normal.
How are you keeping in touch with your loved ones during the quarantine? We’d love to know!